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Swiss to vote on sweet minimum monthly income: $2,800

Published time: October 06, 2013 09:12
Edited time: November 29, 2013 19:06

Committee members use brooms and shovels to spread out five cent coins over the Federal Square during an event organised by the Committee for the initiative "CHF 2,500 monthly for everyone" (Grundeinkommen) in Bern October 4, 2013. (Reuters / Denis Balibouse)

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Some 120,000 Swiss signatories have put their names to a petition demanding a minimum disposal household income of $2,800 per month for every single member of the working adult population. Enough names have been collected for a government vote.

Anything less than the proposed amount of 2,500 Swiss francs would be deemed illegal, even for people working in the lowest paid jobs. A typical fast-food worker in the US earns roughly $1,500 per month.

It could be one of the landmark historical moments, like the abolition of slavery, or the civil rights movement – of course, those who don’t want it will find excuses, but those who do want it will find solutions,” Enno Schmidt, founder of the Basic Income Initiative, told RT.

A date for the vote itself is yet to be confirmed, however, it could take place before the end of this year, depending on the decision of the Swiss government. The “1:12 initiative” has gained support across the government’s social democrat bloc.

To mark the day, a truck full of 8 million five-cent coins was deposited on the square and spread out in front of the Swiss Parliament in Bern on Saturday.

A truck dumps five cent coins in the centre of the Federal Square during a an event organised by the Committee for the initiative "CHF 2,500 monthly for everyone" (Grundeinkommen) in Bern October 4, 2013. (Reuters / Denis Balibouse)

The money to fund the measure, should it pass, would likely be supplied by the Swiss social insurance system. 

If there’s anywhere that can finance this, it’s Switzerland. Right now we have the ball rolling – it’s down to a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question. It will then be up to lawmakers to determine exactly where the money will come from,” said Oswald Sigg, former Swiss Vice-Chancellor.

However, it has caused serious concerns about tax rises and pension loss.

The older generation lived their whole lives in another system so it’s harder for them to actually realize what this means. They have fear, of course, for their pensions, and don’t instantly get that this is a replacement of an old system,” said Che Wagner one of the co-starters of the Basic Income Initiative.

As Switzerland has the 100,000 signature threshold, the country frequently votes on public measures. On November 24, the country will vote on another initiative to cap executive pay at the maximum of twelve times the lowest paid salary member. 

One of Switzerland’s biggest CEOs has stated that if the measure passes, he would seriously contemplate moving his company out of the country. “I can’t believe that Switzerland would cause such great harm to its economy,” Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg told the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation.

Comments (55)


Glyn McCluskey 30.03.2014 15:02

A similar thing started in the early to mid 90's in Australia.Money was given to families with children in various ways,"Child Endowment"had no bearing on income,then it was a much increased "Family payment" which had some bearing on income, by the beginning of '01, it was "Family Tax Payment" which speaks for itself.The Labour government implemented this scheme to help low income families.Since then other parties have changed it making more & more of it taxable. Some industries have hugely inflated prices. I think it's a great idea,just please be wary of of the sharks and ensure laws are in place to catch them.


est ockert 09.01.2014 13:04

can you see major powers around the world pushing to stop this precedent from being set? hope it goes forward as a good experiment. anything is better than this existing scam legacy system.


Robert W. Fuller 13.10.2013 23:12

There are 2 sides to this issue: money and prices. Placing a floor under the standard of living is key to universal human dignity. Any State that seeks to advance civilization will end the cruelties inherent to the struggle for resources.
Payin g everyone a stipend is not a cure in itself. Other parameters would need to be tweaked at the same time to limit inflation and keep pop. low. Incentive to work is not an issue: employers will address it the way they always have: by competing to offer more pay/perks. If you insist human beings give part of their short lives to toil, make it worth the sacrifice.

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